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Gamecocks after national standout

South Carolina is going against some of the top programs, again, for one of the top recruits in the country. Class of 2014 two-way player Ryder Ryan (Huntersville, N.C./North Mecklenburg) visited Columbia recently and the Gamecocks are one of four programs with a great shot at landing the No. 27 recruit in the country.

Class of 2014 RHP/3B Ryder Ryan

Ryan is coveted in part because his skill set is so diverse. A right-hander, his fastball will top out around 93 mph when he’s on the mound. He’s also a talented third baseman with a swing that has college coaches lining up to talk to him.

On Sunday, Ryan made the short trip down I-77 to visit South Carolina. It was the last in a long line of unofficial visits as he begins to narrow his focus of colleges.

“I loved the visit. The coaches, the players, atmosphere - it was just a great visit,” Ryan said. “The coaches know a lot and do a good job of teaching their players. South Carolina wins a lot of ball games. I feel like I’m coachable and I could learn a lot from that staff.”

Ryan has been to Carolina Stadium on several occasions playing for the South Charlotte Panthers, a showcase program based in the Charlotte, N.C. area. Sunday was the first time he visited to meet with the coaches and tour the facilities along with the rest of the campus.

“The campus was so nice,” Ryan said. “There’s the city right there and then there’s the campus. It’s different. The baseball facilities are awesome. What they have to offer is incredible. There’s everything there you need to have to get better as a baseball player.”

The visit went well and it left the Gamecocks firmly in the mix in his recruitment. He’s cut a couple of schools out, at least for the time being, and is focused on four programs. South Carolina is one of the fortunate four while Clemson, North Carolina, and N.C. State round out his list.

Clemson: I like Clemson because I’ve been to a lot of their camps and I know what they have. I’ve played a lot of scrimmages there and they have everything you could want.

N.C. State: It is small, but I can see them getting better as they go along. They’re doing a great job recruiting. I can see playing there. I know a lot of people on the team there, they like the coaches, and there have a very nice campus.

North Carolina: They have a lot of new stuff there. It’s a lot like South Carolina with regard to the facilities.

Ryan has experience both as a starting pitcher and as a reliever but admits that he likes to close when he takes the mound. In addition to his low-90s fastball, he also sports a curve ball, slider, and changeup in his repertoire.

“When I come in to close, I feel better than I do starting,” Ryan said. “I just come in there, shove it, and give it all I’ve got.”

While he’s made a national name on the mound, he’s viewed by many as more of a position player. Ryan prefers to be in the field and at third base, but can play nearly any position. He is ranked as the No. 2 catcher nationally but can also play first base or a corner outfield position as well.

“I like to play third a lot,” Ryan said. “I work hard there and that’s where I’d like to play in college. As a hitter, I feel like I can hit for power and for average. I love hitting and playing third.”

As far as how the rest of the recruiting process will play out, Ryan says he will narrow his list in the short term to three schools that he will visit at some point during the college baseball season. Once he’s visited each school, he’ll then begin to make a decision.

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